Falling in LOVE with Austin in the Springtime. Small Town Feel, Big Town Culture
"People don't live in Austin to work; they work there to live." --Robert Rodriguez.
June 1, 2019
My entire life I had never visited Texas, and in the last four years I've been lucky enough to now drive across the state seven times. That being said I never really got Texas... I always thought of it more of a character of itself than anything else.
That was until I found myself in Austin in mid April. All my previous visits to the state had been during the summer, so SUPER DUPER hot and dusty, but southeastern Texas in April. Simply Amazing!!!
Austin, Texas' capital, fully embraces the slogan of keeping itself weird (along with Portland). Austin is also one of the most nicknamed cities in America with some of the more unusual including Waterloo and the City of Violet Crown. Austin is also the live music capital of the world (which makes it a GREAT location for SXSW one of the biggest music conferences...). It's population hovers around 1 million people so it's got a small town feel with big city culture.
While in the ATX city I crashed with a friend in the adorable area of South Congress. This vibrant neighborhood south of Lady Bird Lake is a must-stroll for visitors and a popular hangout for locals. South Congress oozes homespun character and boasts the story of Austin's yesteryear in its boutiques, eateries, galleries and music venues.
SUMMER MOON COFFEE
With a slogan of "the Wood is Good" Summer Moon Coffee prides itself on wood fired roasted coffee. A style that only 1% of coffee roasters craft their beans with. With seventeen locations they are a local fan favorite.
While chilling there with a Summer Moon (there version of a Vanilla Latte) I got to conversate with one of their managers EZ. He explained the owners have a patent pending on the wood fired roaster. That in 2004, inspired by the early American coffee roasters and the simplicity of their tools: brick, fire and wood, they set out to craft custom coffee roasts they could be truly proud to call their own. The owners had to build and rebuild it 6-7 times to get to coffee roasting perfection.
EZ continued, "if you ask why they invested everything they have in 19th century technology . . . you haven't tasted our coffee. This is coffee unplugged."
MOONSHINE PATIO BAR AND GRILL
Later that day we headed over to Downtown Austin for the beautiful (and bootlegged according to their slogan) Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill. This restaurant was recommended by my music industry friend who's attended SXSW many many times and knows the skinny on The Bat City.
Our charming waiter warned us the portions were "Texas Style" aka four times the size of an entree in Los Angeles. Which lead me to wonder how anyone makes any money in the restaurant industry in Texas?
We started the lunch off healthy style with their Cornflake Fried Chicken Salad with Greens, Cheddar, Avocado, Tomato, Apple-Wood Smoked Bacon, and Honey Dijon Mustard. I was the perfect balance of greens and country! ;-)
We followed this with a splitting of the Chicken Fried Steak with Chipotle Cream Gravy. The split dishes were twice the size a normal entree on the west coast, Hey we were in the Republic of Texas. It was everything, and more, you come to respect in deep fried Texas goodness. Plus, since it was virtually a legal requirement to take home a doggy bag for dinner that night, and breakfast the next morning we were set for the next few meals. We paired this with a side of Green Chile Cheddar Grits, cheesy and creamy they were the perfect Southern side dish.
After our entree our waiter sauntered up to us and delivered an some of the harshest words by Texas foodie standards: "You ladies look pretty defeated...". Challenge accepted my Man. And thus, we ordered the establishment's infamous Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with an Oreo Cookie Crust. The dish was featured on The Food Network, who called it "the world's greatest peanut butter cup wrapped into a pie."
PHOTOSHOOT WITH MOWGLI
Then it was off to do a photoshoot with the sparkly Mowgli the Dinosaur (perfect for Texas). Mowgli the Dinosaur is a bedazzled T. Rex with 150,000 hand applied rhinestones of pure BLING! He's the perfect activation for the fun loving art crowd having become a mainstay at First Friday Las Vegas, the Dope Cup in the High Desert of California, the Cannabis Cups of Riverside and Sacramento, CA, private parties in Tucson, and events hosted by The Green Light District.
This photoshoot featured comedian singer Caitlin Comeskey in the Zilker Botanical Garden. Mowgli is quite a SIGHT TO BE SEEN and everyone who encounters him wants to take a Selfie with this 67 million year old SPARKLY T. Rex! And that day was no exception as multiple frisbee golf players in the park pauses long enough to snap that shot for their Insta-Story.
RADIO COFFEE AND BEER
The next day it was off to Houston (for the Houston Comedy Film Festival where one of my screenplays was a Finalist!), but before I hit the road I needed to duck into one more Austin coffee shop.
The slightly Southern Hipster, Radio Coffee and Beer oozed adorableness at six in the morning. This is aggressively curated coffee! Radio serves coffee from several roasters including Stumptown Coffee Roasters (Portland, Ore), Little City (Austin, Tx), Wild Gift (Austin, Tx). This java joint was voted best coffeeshop by the Austin Chronicle Reader's Poll in 2016, 2017, and 2018. There was already a line for the food truck outside the joint. One of the AWESOME things about this local cup of joe spot is that it's open from 6:30 in the morning to Midnight (usually coffee shops close around 9pm...). Oh, and they do Bluegrass every Monday night.
So here's to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and never being defeated by Texas portions!!!
Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at http://www.thiswayadventures.com